Rome’s Garbage Goes Dutch: Amsterdam Will Receive A Weekly Shipment of 900 Tonnes of Trash from Italy

AMA, the company operating garbage collection in Rome, Italy and the city of Amsterdam in the Netherlands have signed a waste management deal. Under the new agreement, Amsterdam will receive a weekly shipment of 900 tonnes of trash from Italy for delivery to the Amsterdam Waste and Energy Company (AEB) for use as fuel. AEB currently supplies 30,000 local households with waste-generated heat.

Rome has long had a critical problem with its municipal garbage management – for example, the main facility for waste disposal in Rome reached saturation in 2003 and was closed in 2013. The city is currently accepting venders for the construction of a waste-to-energy plant in order to avoid the need to create a new 1-million-ton landfill site or more rubbish dumps, but the incinerator will not be operational until at least the year 2026.  Without this solution, burial of the waste would be the only alternative.

“Landfilling of residual waste, which still occurs in many European countries, is a low-quality method of waste disposal with harmful consequences for the environment, mainly due to methane emissions,” the AEB said in a statement.

Under the new agreement, Rome’s weekly garbage delivery will be pressed into huge bales and sent 1700 km. to Amsterdam via 16-carriage cargo trains, which will unload directly at AEB’s site. It will pay 200 euros to Amsterdam for each tonne of garbage that the city accepts, about €28 million (~US$31m) over three years.

AEB states that the waste will be processed “in efficient incinerators” and used to generate energy for households and companies in the Netherlands. “This is better for the environment than being dumped in Rome, even the train transport of the waste is taken into account,” the AEB said.